This is the story of a coworker of mine who had a rather unfortunate habit. Every time she washed her hands, she would take care to remove her set of wedding rings and place them on a small ledge near the sink. There was no problem with this and nobody minded in the least. However, when I went to wash my hands one day, and saw a set of rings on the little ledge, you can be sure I knew who they belonged to. I tucked the rings in my pocket and planned to return them to her when I passed by her desk.
“Hi, ” I started, reaching for the rings, “I, uh -” . I never got a chance to say more.
She spun around, a look of horror on her face. “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it!” she cried out, “I just remembered - I left my rings in the bathroom! What if -” She sprung from her chair, half feral beast, her feet tangling in the legs. “Somebody could have taken them!” Her eyes were wild. My body was frozen. My thoughts were frozen. In that moment, doubt I could have blinked if someone had offered me a month’s pay for it. “They could have fallen down the drain! Or, or - I have to go get them!” And she was gone, having knocked over a wicker wastebasket in her haste.
The spell broken, I awoke from my frozen stupor and stared curiously at the rings clenched in my white knuckled hand. Why hadn’t I just shown them to her? Sure, I had been understandably taken aback, but how much courage, how much thought process could it possibly take to remove one’s hand from one’s pocket?
She slumped back into the room a few minutes later. “They’re gone,” she said, her voice brimming with disbelief. “Someone must have taken them.” She gave one of the most mournful sighs I have ever heard, “I just can’t believe it.”
“Maybe,” I offered her an awkward smile, “Someone did take your rings, but they…” I thought for a second, “had... honorable intentions.”
She looked at me with a confused expression.
“They…. They meant well.” I offered another awkward grin.
“Then why would they take -” She was already shaking her head, dismissing my statement as utterly incomprehensible, ridiculous, crazy -
I held out my hand.
“M-my rings!” she sputtered, her eyes open wide. “Thank you!” she sighed with relief, “Th - thank you, but,” she looked at me, “But, how? Why?”
And it seemed she was back to disbelief. At least now it was the good kind.
I grinned, dropping the rings into her palm. “I was just coming to give them to you, but…”
“I freaked out,” she said, smiling a little. “I definitely need to work on that,” she added ruefully. “And maybe I shouldn’t leave my jewelry lying about on sink ledges!” she laughed.
I wasn’t so sure the whole thing was a laughing matter. “Next time,” I warned her, in the tone a parent might use with a child, “It might not be me who finds them.”
She rolled her eyes at the warning, but in a companionable way, and thanked me again (profusely) and that was that.
Or so I thought.
A few weeks went by. Life went on as usual. Then, a morning arrived that took ‘the usual’, ripped it to shreds, set it on fire, and threw it out the window.
It was my coworker’s arrival that caused the commotion. Actually, it wasn’t so much her arrival as it was the state of her arrival. Or at least, the state she was in when she arrived.
Her hair was sticking up. Her makeup was smeared. And her expression! She looked like her life was about to end. Maybe it was, I wondered, perhaps she had been diagnosed with a fatal disease. Or a family member had been. Or perhaps they were already dead? No. Hers was the look of a person who knows the worst is still to come, not a person for which it has already arrived.
I quashed my morbid thoughts and approached her as one might a small bird. “Hello,” I said, my movements slow and steady so as not to scare her off. “Do you want to tell me what’s wrong?”
She looked at me, her eyes hollow. When she spoke, her voice was broken, empty. “I, I lost the stone from my wedding ring,” she paused and let out a slow breath, “It was a diamond. A really expensive one.” She groaned, “How am I - how am I going to tell my husband?”
I gave her a reassuring smile, “There’s still a chance you could find it again. Why don’t you try retracing your steps since you know the stone was last there.”
She sighed despairingly, “That’s just it. I don’t know. I think the diamond was there last night when I put the rings in the box, but I’m not really sure.” She grimaced, “I was in such a rush. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if the thing had turned blue!”
At this point I must admit that I was nodding along a little absently, because, while my body sat there in my office, nodding and uh-huh-ing as politeness demanded, my inner clairvoyant was swiftly engulfed in a vision. I smiled a little as I saw the dresser she had placed the rings on top of. There was a small lamp and a few other items on it. It was covered in a strip of lace fabric. That seemed important somehow though I didn’t know why.
Still a little confused about the lace, I described the dresser to her.
Her mouth dropped open. She was stunned. Judging by her reaction, I figured my intuition had been right so far but, I wasn’t done yet. “You put the rings up there so your little children couldn’t reach them,” I smiled at her reassuringly, “You felt it was a safe place for the night.”
“Y-yes,” she replied (a little shakily), “B-but, how… how did you know that?”
“That’s not important,” I said, brushing off the question. After all, I didn’t feel like getting into that just then. What was important, I thought with a tinge of frustration, was that lacey thing. But why?
When it came, the answer hit me like a ton of bricks moving at the speed of light - sudden and with a hard impact. I had to wonder sometimes if the spirits got a little annoyed when I didn’t get their messages right away. “What is important,” I told her, massaging my forehead, “Is that you look inside that lace dresser cover when you get home. The diamond should be there. I believe it was caught in the lace when it fell out of the ring,” I drew a breath and continued, “One of the prongs holding it in place was damaged,” I grinned, “You might want to get that fixed after you find the diamond.”
She gave me a strange look, but the next day she bounced into the office smiling and excited to tell me that she had found the diamond just where I had said it would be. She had also taken the rings to a jeweler.
“It was just like you said!” She gasped with excitement, “He said one of the prongs was damaged and some of the others were a little loose.”
I nodded, glad my intuition had been correct, “Did you get them fixed?”
She grinned and wiggled her fingers at me. Sitting there were some of the most gorgeous rings I had ever seen. It was obvious they had been repaired and polished and they looked brand-new.
A Note From The Editor:
This story is special because, while all of the major events mentioned remain true to life, some of the smaller details have been embellished for better reading. Where the exact words were not remembered, dialogue has been created that expresses the general idea of what was stated. Let us know what you think of this new format!